Can Working Out the Brain Make You a Super Athlete?

(sound:ξsports announcer for football)

The Cardinal's Larry Fitzgerald is one of if not the best receiver in Football. And There are experts who believe much of his success comes not from his physical skills, but from his cognitive skills.

Betsy De Vega runs a center in Sugarland called Learning RX. You can call it a work-out gym for the mind.

"We work on exercises to strengthen the mind's agility. Somebody on the field, when the ball is coming to them, they should within secondsξbe able to see which direction they are going to go, where the ball is going to, what their next step will be."

Bill Stamps: "You can turn me into a professional player?

Betsy De Vega: "I don't know about that."

(sound: football game)

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, a cognitive psychologist said Fitzgerald's incredible ability to make tough catches may have come from his childhood, when his grandfather who was an optometrist did exercises with him to work on his eye-hand coordination.

Betsy de Vega showed me one of the mind strengthening exercisesξshe does with her clients in Houston. I had to read as fast as I could the names of colors that are also typed in different colors.

"Ready set go..."

"Blue, black, green..."

There's three forms of attention, there's selective, there's divided, and there's sustained attention. So going back to athletes when they have to focus on the ball they can focus on the ball.

"But still there's people who are gonna say if I get better at this that doesn't mean I'm going to be able to catch a ball any better."

"You're right it may not increase your throw or your catch, but you're notice you're a little faster in your thinking out on the field. You'll notice that you're not as distracted out on the field."

So, the bottom line...they say mind training may not make you the next Tiger Woods, but it could help improve your score on the course Saturday morning with the guys. But if you're already a good athlete, who knows...maybe training the mind as well as the body...could put you over the top.

(sound: football game)

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston public radio.
Tags: News


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